The Ownership of Blessings

The Ownership of Blessings

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Rev. Amelia Edson serves Falmouth Congregational Church, UCC

Scripture: Luke 16:1-13  (NRSV)

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Then Jesus said to the disciples, ‘There was a rich man who had a manager, and charges were brought to him that this man was squandering his property. So he summoned him and said to him, “What is this that I hear about you? Give me an account of your management, because you cannot be my manager any longer.” Then the manager said to himself, “What will I do, now that my master is taking the position away from me? I am not strong enough to dig, and I am ashamed to beg. I have decided what to do so that, when I am dismissed as manager, people may welcome me into their homes.” So, summoning his master’s debtors one by one, he asked the first, “How much do you owe my master?” He answered, “A hundred jugs of olive oil.” He said to him, “Take your bill, sit down quickly, and make it fifty.” Then he asked another, “And how much do you owe?” He replied, “A hundred containers of wheat.” He said to him, “Take your bill and make it eighty.” And his master commended the dishonest manager because he had acted shrewdly; for the children of this age are more shrewd in dealing with their own generation than are the children of light. And I tell you, make friends for yourselves by means of dishonest wealth so that when it is gone, they may welcome you into the eternal homes.

‘Whoever is faithful in a very little is faithful also in much; and whoever is dishonest in a very little is dishonest also in much. If then you have not been faithful with the dishonest wealth, who will entrust to you the true riches? And if you have not been faithful with what belongs to another, who will give you what is your own? No slave can serve two masters; for a slave will either hate the one and love the other, or be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth.’

 

Reflection: The Ownership of Blessings

Amelia Edson with Little Monkey
during a children’s moment

When I was four my aunt and cousin came to live with us. With my cousin came his things—toys, books, blocks.  I, previously an only child, had a hard time adjusting to the concept that my house now contained things that were not mine. Specifically, I became fixated on a stuffed monkey who we named Little Monkey. Little Monkey was one of the best toys Andrew had. He was not necessarily one of the best toys that I had, but I was obsessed. I carried him around the house and refused to be separated from him.

When it came time for my Aunt and cousin to move into a place of their own, my mother and my aunt agonized with what to do about the stolen Monkey. I was eventually told that I could have him “on loan” until my cousin got settled in. The grown ups told me that he wasn’t mine, and worked hard to establish the facts with me and my cousin. Yet, Little Monkey has never made his way back—he traveled to college with me, to several states, and now is a plaything of my own children and an occasional participant in church children’s moments.

The tricky thing about having something that doesn’t belong to us for long enough is that, eventually, we begin to believe it is ours. Perhaps this is what happened to the manager. He had been in charge of his Masters estate, making decisions, tallying up debts, for years.

By the time the master came home and realized that the manager needed to be let go, it seemed like he was trying to take away something that rightfully belonged to the manager.

This happens to all of us, occasionally. It happens to children, all the time. Perhaps you remember telling your parents that you didn’t have to clean your room because it was YOUR room— or perhaps, more recently, someone has made that argument to you. It was one of my favorites. This room is MY ROOM, I would insist, forgetting that my parents gave me the room, that my family lived with me. Questions of ownership are often more complex than is immediately apparent.

It happens to grownups, too. Many people object to affordable housing in their neighborhoods. It is not because they don’t want to help the poor. They just don’t want it in their building, in their neighborhood—that part of the city is theirs, and they want to keep it for themselves.

It is easy to forget that we did not acquire our blessings on our own; we had families, and networks, and advantages, that helped us. It is easy to forget that, in God’s creation, nothing is truly ours, because everything fundamentally belongs to God.

Walter Bruggeman has said that “finding out who things belong to and returning them” is the entire work of justice. Perhaps if we could just be honest about what is ours, and what, rightly, is other people’s, we would live in the kingdom of God.

God rules (and owns) the world. Being honest about the blessings we receive here on this earth is a good way to get ready for the true riches of God’s kingdom. It is good, hard, heavenly work.

All that being said, I’m keeping the Monkey.

PRAYER

Lord God, as we go through the world this week help us remember to think about what is ours, and what is other people’s, and, above all, what is Yours. Help to consider whether some of the things we think of as “ours”—the privileges, the comforts, the security—aren’t, perhaps, as fully ours as we think they are. Help us be honest about earthly wealth so that we might prepare our hearts for the true riches you have for us. Amen. 

New Prayer Requests:

We ask churches and church leaders to join us in the following prayers either by sharing them during worship, printing them in bulletins, or sharing them in some other way. To make a prayer request, please contact Marlene Gasdia-Cochrane at cochranem@sneucc.org.

Prayers of Intercession:

  • For the people of Ukraine whose lives continue to be shattered by war.
  • For those grieving or suffering due to the ~30,250 gun violence deaths in the US this year.
  • For those suffering from either too much, too little, or too contaminated water

Prayers of Joy and Thanksgiving:

  • For those who share their blessings
  • For the little things that bring joy to children, and adults.

 This Week in History:

September 16, 1932 (90 years ago): Gandhi begins fast in protest of caste separation, which gave India's lowest classes—known as “untouchables”—their own separate political representation for a period of 70 years. Gandhi believed this would permanently and unfairly divide India’s social classes. A member of the more powerful Vaisya, or merchant caste, Gandhi nonetheless advocated the emancipation of the untouchables, whom he called Harijans, or “Children of God.”  His six-day fast ended after the British government accepted the principal terms of a settlement between higher caste Indians and the untouchables that reversed the separation decision. [History

“Study the past if you would define the future.”
Confucius

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Amelia Nugent Edson

Rev. Amelia Nugent is pastor at Falmouth Congregational Church, UCC and is passionate about meaningful worship that fuels Spirit filled and justice oriented lives.  

September 12, 2022
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